Start of Summer Photography

Summer came early to my part of the world, with unseasonably hot and dry weather. It’s shaping up to be a busy year for me but not in a bad way. I was given the opportunity to till up a large plot of land for a garden, which I have done and it’s all planted. A moose has quickly discovered it and eaten through all my broccoli and cabbage through several starts, along with most of my cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts. I’ve since replanted and now working on building a (hopefully) better fence. I hope you enjoy some recent photos.

A storm brewing over the Inlet.
Almost sunset at 10pm in May.
Rare sighting: caribou crossing the highway.
Moody clouds
Discovered a new(?) Alaskan company. Their Spruce Tip soda is a delight.
And I’m quite enjoying their cola, which, according to the back of the can, “tastes like a bolt of citrus and ginger lightning striking the Alaskan tundra”.
Electric 11pm sunset
Mama and baby moose 😍
Another flamer 11:20pm, one thing chemtrails do is create crazy-colored sunsets.
Last night, well after midnight. We don’t call Alaska the land of the midnight sun for no reason.
Moon and sunset
Through the screen window… what’s that in the foreground….?
Oh. Hey there Alaskan mosquito. “Unofficial state bird” 🙄

tara caribou | ©2022 all photos mine

Available Now – We Lived Like Kings by G.M. Manzi

Raw Earth Ink is proud to present G.M. Manzi’s debut poetry book, We Lived Like Kings.

“I’d one day love to spin a tale from yarn weaved from that which brings me joy, peace, and serenity. But the fount of creativity is unfortunately better fed by the spring from which flows my miseries, misfortunes, and unforgiving hatreds.”

G.M. Manzi ruminates the everyday introspection without sugarcoating or special dressing. Read like a friend sharing from his heart on a muggy summer evening in the back yard, pipe in hand, mesmerized by the rising smoke and long pauses between thoughts. He counters rough memories with softer moments and hindsight. Sit back, prop up your feet, and soak in the significant minutes.

A couple of my personal favorites are:

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of Mr. Manzi’s book. Available at lulu, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kindle or signed copies directly from the author.

© 2022 | G.M. Manzi

The Higher Call

He dips his pen into the inkwell. Lifts it carefully, tapping it gently on the edge of the jar before moving back to his paper. His fingertips, forever stained with the heavy black ink, never hesitate.

Not a moment passes where there aren’t thoughts and ideas swirling inside his heart and mind, stories to be told in a few short lines.

There’s a worn wooden clock on the wall ticking away the moments he’ll never see again. His writing quickens. So many things to say. He knows he’ll write until there’s no more strength in his fingers.

Other than the clock, it’s just the scratching of the nib you hear. Periodically punctuated with ejaculations of fury or a sharp bark of laughter.

In the corner sits a worn teddy bear on a three-legged stool. Its soft tan fur now matted and thin. It once held the affections of the little boy who used to sit in the very same place, silently watching his poppa create.

His light brown eyes always observing, absorbing… but he never did learn how to speak. Decades have crawled on since he last sat on that stool while the now-aged man he once watched still writes and writes and writes.

tara caribou | ©2019-2022 revised

Revolution (excerpt) by tara caribou

The following is an excerpt of my short story: Revolution, which you can find in the anthology Static Dreams Volume One. Inside you’ll find nine dark and twisted stories written by some amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.

Mark remembered the day he found himself here. That morning, so many mornings ago, had started normal for a sunny summer day. He was nine or ten, he couldn’t actually remember that part. Since school was out, he woke without an alarm and quietly pulled on a pair of moderately clean shorts and a rumpled t-shirt from his bedroom floor. He tiptoed past mom and dad’s bedroom and made his way outside. There was a creek at the end of their street and he spent most of his waking hours there when he wasn’t back home grabbing food or checking in with mom. Even now, he wished he could remember their names, his parents. But kids never cared much for things like that and here he was years later wishing he at least had that part of them to hold.

He recalled tossing sticks into the creek and trying to guess which would reach the little waterfall first. He recalled the sun warm on his back. He recalled the sky turning a bright crimson fading to purple and feeling overwhelmingly tired and a pressure behind his eyes. Falling to his knees and sleeping. He recalled waking up in an unfamiliar wood with a sky that was a little too lavender and a smell that smelled just a little off from what he had always known. He now knew the smell came from the Worker Class and their strange unclean ways. Back then, he just knew that he wasn’t home anymore.

He had sat up in an alien forest. He appeared to be on a wide trail of sorts, thin vines and grass wrapped around his arms and legs loosely, like a soft cocoon. Soon he heard talking. Looking about he finally saw them round a bend. There were four of them. A large rabbit, probably two feet tall. A mouse nearly as big. Something that was like a dog, it took him a while to remember they were called bulldogs. And then a badger. He didn’t know if it was big or little, it was about the same size as the others. It wasn’t their size that was as remarkable as the fact they were talking and that he could understand them.

The four animals stopped when they noticed Mark sitting there, gently unwrapping the foliage from his limbs. They exchanged glances with one another. The mouse dropping its head and shaking it while muttering, “not another one”. The rabbit hopped forward a couple hops closer and turned its head in a peculiar way, looking him over. With a single nod of its head, he stretched forth one paw and said in a kind voice. “Where are you from, friend?” “You…. you can talk?” had been Mark’s reply. The rabbit glanced back at the others and then at him again. “We can talk. But it’s not safe here. You shouldn’t be here. You don’t belong here…” The bulldog interrupted, “we need to leave. You know what happens next, if they find us.” The others nodded in agreement.

“Wait!” Mark called, as the four turned to leave the way they came. “Where am I? Who are you?” The rabbit only shook its head sadly prophesying, “I’m so sorry you have come here. It shan’t be easy for you now. No not at all.” Then turning, the four made their way swiftly back down the trail. Whispering amongst themselves and clearly in a hurry to put distance between the boy and them. Mark pulled his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms about his legs, began to cry softly.

He had stuck around the general area all that day, exploring very little, hoping that the creatures would come back and explain things to him. As evening fell, he began to get a little scared. Not of the dark, but of the unknown. He missed mom. He was hungry. And he was alone. Sometimes he thought he could hear whispers at the edge of his hearing but when he called out, there came no reply. Then just as the first stars began to appear, he heard a “psst!” nearby. Looking about himself, he caught the white stripes of the badger. “Psst!” it growled again. Mark crawled over to it. “Follow me,” the badger whispered. He did as he was told, moving quietly as he observed the badger doing the same. Shortly they came to a small rock wall and at the base a narrow entrance to a cave. It quickly grew dark as they navigated deeper into the cave but Mark had put his hand on the badger’s back and trusted it enough to continue following it through the cave.

Minutes passed before they suddenly halted. There were the sounds of a key turning in a lock, followed by a dim light flooding the narrow passageway as the door was pushed open. They crossed the threshold and closed the door behind them. The badger sighed with audible relief. “I’m sorry for all the secrecy but these are dangerous times in our land and I am sorry that you have made your way here to witness it.” It busied itself at the small fireplace, adding a few more logs and stoking the flames up a bit. Then it lit a few oil lamps and gestured for Mark to sit on the rug in front of the glowing fire. Reaching into a small box, the badger removed a sausage and a wheel of cheese. From an open cupboard, it pulled out a round loaf of bread and set all three things in front of him. Mark ate nearly all of it before his hunger was tamed. The badger handed him a small flask which it said was thulaberry wine. Mark didn’t know what that was, but it tasted a little like grape juice soda only not as sweet.

The badger sat in a worn wooden rocking chair and lit a stone pipe, the white smoke curling as it rose to the ceiling, which Mark just now realized was dirt and he could see a few roots poking down into the chamber. He scooted a little closer to the fire. A few minutes passed before the badger spoke again. “I brought you here because I read in my leaves this afternoon that I was to bring you here and give you the Seeing Herb. This is all I know or can tell you. The herb will tell you the rest. I wish I could let you sleep first but I really don’t know how much time I have.” It motioned with a claw to a small shelf above the mantel. On it rested an ornate clay box. Mark pulled it down, briefly noticing the intricate green leaves and flowers inlaid within its surface, and handed it to the badger, who opened it and pinched a small grape-sized clump between its claws. “Chew on this, don’t swallow. Chew until there’s nothing left. Swallow the juices.” Mark did as he was told, completely trusting the strange creature. The dried plant, which he noticed was a blueish green and appeared to have golden threads coming off it and covered in silver crystals, tasted like the forest and something more. An almost bitter flavor without being off-putting. He chewed and chewed, swallowing his spit when he needed to.

At first he had felt a pleasant peacefulness fall over him. This was followed by a clarity in his surroundings. He noticed the different colors of the dirt floor and ceiling, the flames of the hearth casting dancing shadows, the smell of the badger’s pipe. Trinkets and bottles and dried flowers rested upon every available ledge. His gaze was drawn to the badger’s whiskers as it puffed on its pipe, eyes closed, until looking up, where he watched the smoke gently curling above their heads. He lay back, arms crossed behind his neck, and watched entranced.

The smoke began to move in different ways and he found that he was seeing shapes which materialized into definite forms and then complete scenes. He watched as if a movie played before him unfolding. And he learned.

I hope you enjoyed this teaser into the history behind Mark’s revolution. You can read the entire short story in the book.

tara caribou | ©2020-22

Purchase the book at lulu (paperback), Kindle, Barnes and Noble.

Sometimes Life Does

Ray-ray always took extra care when preparing to meet Danny. She used to primp and preen, addressing each curl with precision and care. The dark dreads would stand straight out if she let them. But Danny was worth it. She would apply the hair cream to each strand meticulously. Afterwards, she slicked her full lips using a dark lipstick which she hoped would entice him just so.

She would check her teeth for stray particles before popping a stick of gum in her mouth, because she wanted her breath smelling minty or fruity or cinnamony, not like last night’s tacos. She would smudge dark stain on each eyelid and a thin layer of mascara, each lash carefully attended to.

Danny was worth it. Danny was the light in Ray-ray’s eyes. He didn’t care if her skin was the color of dark mocha. He didn’t care if she was poor. He didn’t care about the size of her house or if she had gas in her car. Danny said he liked her husky voice and the way her lips moved when she talked. They would talk for hours.

He would tell her about work and life at his house. About love past and the future he saw for himself, the future he would make happen. And Ray-ray hung on his every word. Believed every syllable and exclamation point. She danced on his infectious laughter and wrapped her arms around his engaging whispers.

Ray-ray loved Danny more than she ever loved anyone ever. He was the epitome of perfection in her dark brown eyes. Oh, she knew he wasn’t perfect, per se, no, but he was perfect for her. He made mistakes. He could sometimes be distant. But she overlooked the little flaws because they were unimportant to who he really was, inside. Every day, she ached to hold him in her arms. Every day, she ached to know he felt the same way about her.

He didn’t.

Danny cared deeply for Ray-ray, she knew. She was his friend. Probably his best friend. The one who understood him more than any other person on this spinning globe. Danny cared about her, yes, but he did not love her. She knew that he never would. Secretly, when she was alone in the dark, Ray-ray let herself cry quietly. She let herself dream about a day when Danny would speak to her, all emotion flowing: I love you Ray-ray. You’re the only woman I desire, the only one I need, the only one I want… Of course, she knew, in her heart, Danny would never say that. She knew it because she knew him.

Still, she wanted to look her best for him, so that he would see how much he mattered to her, without always saying it verbally. She showed him every way she knew how, that he was important and amazing and talented and intelligent and wonderful and she believed in him and and and…

It wasn’t an act, for her. It wasn’t fake. It was all honest truth. Her truth. Danny was… the best thing that had ever happened in her life. And she wanted to show him how much he meant to her every chance she got.

One day, Ray-ray sat and waited for Danny. She waited all morning. She waited all through lunch. She waited into evening. Danny never came. She worried because Danny had never done anything like this before. In fact, she never heard from him ever again. She still gets ready, at the appropriate time, their time, the time they had always spent together. But he never comes.

Ray-ray doesn’t cry only in the dark anymore.

tara caribou | ©2019-2022 revised

Happiness is…

…when you get a beautiful little note from a friend in the mail unexpectedly.

This makes me smile. I love bunnies and this cute little rabbit made my weekend. 🥰 ~tara

The Dreaming Rain

on a mild and drizzly afternoon
curled up on the porch swing
my cheek resting upon my wrist
creak-creak, creak-creak
gently swaying
rain pounding down the roof
grey clouds pregnant to bursting
thunder boom, I smile

it’s the aching memories
the timber of your voice
caressing me and
how I long for your body
pressed against my skin and
your fingers threading my hair

as our lips hungrily
clash and join and mold together
our tongues thrusting, slithering
breaths in ragged gasps and sighs
my name, yours overlapping

two become one
nostrils flaring, the scent of us
flesh on ravenous flesh
sliding together just as easily as
the rain slips noiselessly
down the saturated roof

creak-creak sigh

then your voice calls
through the screened window
I smile, new memories to be made
the dreaming rain can wait

tara caribou | ©2022 revised from my original poem “down the eaves”

Cotton Candy Trance

head on sand, I absorb ambience
eyelids flutter, salty breeze feathers my skin
gulls wheel and cry, waves caress shore
curling over, rolling under
churning then pulling away
the motion rocks and soothes me
romances me, dreamsqueezes

open eyes, I gaze into the heavens
wispy cotton candy clouds, take their time
spread, reform, color the sky
beyond them a blue expanse spreads wide
blue in blue
focusing in, the blue deepens
behind it I sense inky blackness

something about it draws a sigh
I long for you
wish you were here with me
beside me, fingers braided
toes lightly touching

for a moment I ‘vision you
over there, far away, grass-laying
just as I am on the sand
together, both staring into the future
ours, far above, into the black beyond
watching the clouds, listening to the world

everything pauses, trance engages
weightless, my body lifts

I’m flying up up up soaring and
there you are too! and our hands stretch
fingertips touch
grasp each other’s wrists, gripping tightly
my eyes search yours and
our lips touch and we’re
suddenly spinning and the tighter we hold
the faster we spin
inertia ripping us apart as
love glues us together and
we’re flying right through a cloud
raindrops sticking to our skin

and suddenly
cold grabs ahold of my ankles
and breath penetrates lungs
eyes burst open, chest heaving
I observe receding wave
perceive soft sand beneath
singular desolate tear slips

just one more salty drop
for my own private ocean

tara caribou | ©2022



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